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Foreign Ministers initial new NATO Council Agreement

The foreign ministers of Russia and the 19 NATO member states approved in Reykjavik, Iceland on 14 May an agreement on the creation of a new NATO-Russia Council that will reflect the formal partnership between the two sides, Western and Russian news agencies reported the same day.

Speaking after the signing, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said the new council should be granted full legal status at the NATO-Russia summit in Rome on 28 May. The new council will function on the basis of consensus within a limited range of issues including the fight against terrorism; the non-proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; missile defense; peacekeeping; and managing regional crises, polit.ru and strana.ru reported. The agreement does not give Russia any voice in matters beyond this fixed range of topics, nor does it give NATO any say in matters concerning Russia's national security.

… as Foreign, Defense Ministers laud the Agreement

In his comments on the agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov said it would be wrong to try to figure out who will benefit most from the accord, "as it is beneficial to all sides," strana.ru reported on 15 May. Ivanov also noted "the new council heralds a new step in the development in accord with the realities of the post-Cold War era," but he added that Russia has not withdrawn its objection to NATO's expansion plans. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the new agreement is a recognition of reality and will serve to enhance Russian national security, polit.ru and gazeta.ru reported on 14 May.

(RFE/RL 16.v.02)

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